It’s that time of the year. With only two months left to the commencement of the University of London International Programmes (UOLIP) examinations, examination period stress must have set in for students already. I graduated last year but even I’m feeling tense already. Around this time, last year, you could find me in the corner of my house, cramming for exams and panicking like no other. While you will find a lot of posts giving you studying tips, this post is here to give you key tips on how to survive the examination period stress.
First and foremost, is SLEEP. Sleep is as important as studying for your examinations, if not more, and I cannot emphasize this enough. When I was doing my A Levels, I decided to pull an all-nighter for my History exam. Here’s what happened. It was an afternoon exam and the syllabus was too long to be revised in a day. So my father sees me studying on the night before the exam, as he peeps into my room before he goes to bed. Eight hours later, at 8 a.m. in the morning, he peeps into my room again, only to see me studying in the same position on the same spot in my room. I continue to study a little longer until I decide to take a power nap. I ended up panicking even more when I couldn’t sleep due to the stress I was in. You can imagine how my exam went. I found it hard to read, let alone think about what I wanted to write during the exam. It was one of my worst experiences ever, and the first and last time that I ever pulled an all-nighter. Since then I have always wondered how people pull all-nighters just before their exam the next day. Studies have shown that sleep deprived students score lower in their exams as it has an adverse impact on learning, concentration and memory. Hence, while you may spend more hours revising the syllabus for your exam, the lack of sleep may actually be doing you more harm than good, not only in terms of higher stress levels and deteriorating overall health but in terms of lower scores as well. Therefore, at least seven hours of sleep is imperative, not only for the night before your exam but for the entire examination period and from the time you start preparing for them.
Healthy eating and lots of water is something that all millennials tend to underestimate. During the examination period, I would end up eating more junk food because I felt like I ‘deserved’ to be treated for studying all the time. Eating junk food, however, tends to make one feel more lethargic. Beginning the day with a hearty and healthy breakfast is the best way to kick-start your body and mind. Even if you don’t feel like having breakfast, skipping it should not be an option. For the rest of the day, instead of relying on heavy meals, students should adopt a more healthy approach with light and nutritious meals every few hours. As cliché as it may sound, fruit and vegetables is what you should be having. A treat to yourself with your favourite fast food once in a while is permissible though. Keeping yourself hydrated with water (and not Coca Cola) is essential for better concentration. When I was studying, I would keep a jug of water on my study table and keep drinking water from time to time. Although we all tend to increase our intake of caffeine through the numerous cups of coffee and tea to help us stay awake during examinations, studies have shown that excessive caffeine can actually upset our blood sugar levels and hence, concentration. Adequate food coupled with daily exercise will keep your body and mind refreshed. Hitting the gym during the examination period may not be very do-able, but adopting a 15 minute light intensity work-out routine at home at the start of the day can really do wonders. You don’t need a treadmill or cross trainer to fulfil your dose of exercise for the day. All you need is some will power. All this will make you more alert, increase your concentration and save you the stress that can jeopardise your studying process.
Study in blocks of time with breaks ranging from 10 to 30 minutes in between to give yourself some space to relax. You can reserve your 30 minute breaks for meals, spending time with your family, watching your favourite series or catching up on the rest of the world. Occasional breaks are necessary and scientifically proven to help boost your productivity and reduce stress levels.
So work hard, follow these tips and take your examinations with a stress-free mind!
Zara studied the BSc (Hons) Economics at a recognised teaching institution, University College of Islamabad (UCI), in Islamabad, Pakistan